Tuesday, March 1, 2011

There's A Place

Robert Bunter: This song from the Beatles first album (Please Please Me, as I call it) eerily foreshadows the later philosophical ideas that would animate John's subsequent work. John is singing about how he can retreat to an inner sanctuary of his own thoughts when the external world becomes too harsh. He would echo the same message in psychedelic songs like "Rain," "Tomorrow Never Knows," and "Strawberry Fields Forever," of course, but it's a bit jarring to hear such epistemological solipsism from vintage 1963 Lennon, back when life was in black and white and he hadn't visited America yet.

Richard Furnstein: The penultimate track on the first Beatles album was the perfect place for a brooder. Give the people what they want: squeeze in a little melancholy right before the euphoria of "Twist and Shout." It's a touch slight, but only in the way that rock and roll before the Beatles was slight. They seem to play to their influences on "There's A Place" rather than blowing the old guard out of the water. Two bits of "There's A Place" transcend the Crickets-aping: the slight tricks of the chorus (including some falsetto to really work up the girls) and the dramatic final verse. That verse has John and Paul belting "And it's my miiiiiiiiiiiiiiind/and there's no tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime" like their young lives depended on it. I've just gotta get a message to you, they seem to say. Stand still and let me yell in your face about this magical brain place, girl.

Robert Bunter: Beatles lore tells us that on the day when they recorded this album (in ten straight hours on 2/11/63, which I consider a personal Beatlemaniacal holiday and take off work for each year), John had a bad cold. You can really hear it on this one. The stuffy nose just adds to the mood of introspective melancholy which has already been established by the major seventh intervals and lonesome harmonica. He sounds like he spent the previous night standing outside in the English rain, wearing a long black overcoat and smoking cigarettes, looking into the window of a restaurant where his beloved was obliviously enjoying a plate of beans and English "crisps" with another man. In his pocket is a well-used personal hanky, given to young John in 1958 from his beloved Uncle George (George Toogood Smith), who also gave him his first instrument (a banjo!).

Richard Furnstein: Snot too shabby, Beatles!

1 comment:

  1. Glad they eventually left that harmonica in the hotel room. The harmonica was the worst member of The Beatles.